Prices rise but landings decline

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NEW statistics published today by the Marine Management Organisation show an increase in the value of fish landed by the UK fleet in 2011 compared with 2010.

However, Darren Butcher, of Whitby Fish Sales, said that the statistics may be misleading as less fish landed at markets mean buyers must “battle” over an increasingly-limited supply.

The ‘UK Fishing Industry in 2011: Landings’ report, available on the MMO website, provides an overview of the quantity and and value of species landed by UK and foreign vessels into the UK and by UK vessels landing abroad in 2011.

The statistics show that during 2011, UK vessels landed 600,000 tonnes of sea fish (including shellsfish) into the UK and abroad with a value of £828 million. This represents a 1% fall in quantity but a 15% increase in value compared with 2010.

However, Mr Butcher said that the rise in value is a case of simple economics of supply and demand.

He highlighted the three-month salmon and trout season, which ended last month, as an example, and added: “This year we haven’t had a really big day with over 300 boxes. Instead business has been steady with an average of 50 boxes for three or four buyers.

“When there’s less fish people have to battle for boxes, so less fish means higher prices.”

Whereas last year prices bottomed out at around £3 a kilogram for salmon, this year the prices did not drop below £6 per kilogram. “That’s only because there’s less fish”, said Mr Butcher.

The MMO report is published in advance of the full UK Fisheries Statistics in September, in a drive to provide data to the public as soon as statistics are available. A separate report on the structure and activity of the UK fleet was published in July.

The full report can be seen at www.marinemanagement.org.uk.